Biden rallies House Democrats to White House gun platform
February 6th, 2013
09:53 PM ET
1 year ago

Biden rallies House Democrats to White House gun platform

(CNN) - Meetings of his task force on gun violence twice were interrupted by news of school shootings, Vice President Joe Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday evening.

Biden used those instances to buttress the White House's agenda on the issue.

"When we were meeting with various groups to decide how to proceed, on two occasions in the middle of our meetings we got word that there had been additional shootings in schools," Biden said.

He continued, gesturing toward a House member, "The fourth day of our meetings - in your home state of California in Bakersfield, I get an urgent note, while we're deliberating - another school shooting. Thank God not nearly as extensive.

"Folks, you agree with me, I'm sure, enough is enough is enough. We have to stand up."

Biden was seeking to rally Democrats in Congress behind President Barack Obama's gun violence proposals at their retreat Wednesday evening. Obama had tasked his vice president with investigating the issue and proposing solutions after the deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December – an instance of violence Biden brought vividly into his pitch.

He described how he envisioned the scene in Newtown where lay "those beautiful young children, six and seven years old, literally riddled – riddled – with bullet holes, lying in their classroom."

He described the parents searching for their children in the school parking lot and at the nearby fire station – a sight, he said, which the country "witnessed the profound loss of not only those families but the profound loss that America suffered."

He described the personal devastation of losing a child. His one-year-old daughter died with his first wife in a 1972 car accident.

What emerged after the meetings from the White House was a set of executive actions which Obama said he and his administration would take, as well as a set of legislative proposals - some considered more feasible on Capitol Hill than others.

Their legislative actions include reinstating the ban on assault weapons, requiring background checks on all gun sales (rather than only on sales from federally licensed dealers) and restricting the size of gun magazines.

The assault weapons ban was passed in 1994 and expired a decade later. Biden said passing the 1994 ban was "tough."

"We lost the Congress immediately after that," he said, noting that Republicans won control of the House in the midterm elections. "Some attributed it to the difficult stance people had to take particularly on the assault weapons ban. People had walked away learning the wrong lesson from that, saying, you know what, it's demonstrable that it's too risky to take on some of this stuff because look what happened last time we did this."

Biden said concern that an electoral price would be paid has kept Democrats from voting for the ban.

"I'm here to tell you the world has changed. The world has changed since 1994. Public attitudes have changed since 1994," he said.

A CNN/ORC poll conducted in December found a majority of adults favored banning large ammunition magazines (58% support) and semiautomatic weapons (56%).

But the challenge for the White House would be getting those proposals through Congress.

Biden, who spent decades on the Hill himself, made an emotional pitch to the Democratic lawmakers, who would be important votes on any measures.

He told them of the "15-year-old Chicago girl who so proudly marched by me and the president and the rest of you on inauguration day leading with pride and promise her high school band, gunned down in a park just outside her school in broad daylight."

The vice president was referring to Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot at a park on Chicago's South Side.

Biden also criticized the idea of arming teachers and other school personnel, though he did indicate support for having a police presence within schools known as resource officers.

He spoke in favor of a federal gun trafficking law, increasing the number of police officers on streets and studying both mental health and the impact of violent video games.

Obama is set to speak at the Democratic lawmaker retreat on Thursday.


Filed under: Gun control • Joe Biden
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Lief

    This will blow up in the Democrats face. Any vote on an assault weapons ban will cost the Democrats in 2014.

    February 6, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  2. Ind.

    Democrats are well known for being against the Bill of Rights.

    Nothing new here people, move along.

    February 7, 2013 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  3. Bill from GA

    Banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines because of the gun violence makes about as much sense as invading Iraq because of 9/11.

    The large majority of gun-related killings (close to 20 to 1) are committed with handguns, which are not covered by the proposed regulations. The few 'mass murders' get all the attention, but have little to do with the bigger problem of gun violence in this country.

    Joe Biden, attempting to drum up support for his agenda, mentions the 15-year-old Chicago girl killed late last month. ( Chicago's 42nd homicide for January; ONE MONTH, ONE CITY, 42 Killings! ) Her death had nothing to do with assault rifles and probably not with high-capacity magazines. This killing was as tragic as any; a random bullet not even aimed at her. I am not proud that the political party I generally endorse uses such deception. If you are going to use her story, tackle the issues behind HER death, not your own agenda.

    This culture where such actions in a community are accepted, or at least tolerated, is a larger problem than the attention-getting mass killings. Our glorifying of violence in music, movies, computer games and every-day lifestyle is a big part of the REAL problem. Maybe the solution requires us to talk about issues sensitive to most liberals. We need facts, and we need to act on those facts.

    I personally have no interest in assault rifles and really don't care if they were to be banned, but to do so is nothing but a distraction from the bigger problems leading to so many gun deaths in our violent country.

    February 7, 2013 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  4. jw

    It will cost them the house in the midterms again.

    February 7, 2013 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  5. Really?

    Hey maybe the current President or VP Biden or what if... Feinstein found the resources to remove all the Fire Arms from the 20,000 felons that are KNOWN BY NAME in California before we focus on new laws or bans. The State of CA. knows, they have a list for petes sake, names, address, these are FELONS ARMED. Whats up Barb Feinstein, bet You can find the Money to support a ban. Well hope none of those 20k Felons use their guns for criminal reasons.

    February 7, 2013 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  6. jw

    It will cost them the house in the midterms again. and maybe the Senate.

    February 7, 2013 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    This nation needs Gun-Control law. This socalled second amendment is biggest bs I ever knew.

    February 7, 2013 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  8. Marie MD

    don't give up Mr. Biden!

    February 7, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  9. Name lynn

    Biden i dont see you with a good plan when its come to guns either, i dont know if anyone can come up with a plan for gun control.

    February 7, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  10. communist47

    Trash propaganda

    February 7, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  11. LibParrots

    Welcome to the grand illusion....

    February 7, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  12. CA Independent

    I'm not a gun owner, but respect those who wish to own them. As a boy scout, I learned about them and gun safety. I do believe some laws are needed with regards to how they can be acquired. However, it is painfully obvious that the existing laws are not being enforced. What good is a background check if they don't prosecute those who are intentionally trying to fool the system? Why isn't a person's mental health a factor in buying a weapon? I think in this case, democrats are only trying to push their agenda instead of trying to solve the real problem. I find it insulting that they continue to push this ahead of the state of the economy while ignoring their failures to enforce current laws.

    February 7, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. annerjb

    Biden, who spent decades on the Hill himself, made an emotional pitch to the Democratic lawmakers
    Ah emotional pithc... Not facts or numbers or data. To prove his methods just emotions. That definetly worked so well in the past.

    February 7, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. HenryMiller

    The Democrats are never happy unless they have someone to victimise for society's ills. Economically, the usual intended victims include "the wealthy," who must therefore by punished with higher taxes. With guns, it's the hundred million Americans, 99.9999% of whom have never even come close to hurting anyone.

    February 7, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. James Pettinato

    Magazine capacity or assault style rifle doesn't matter when people are trapped in a movie theater or a school, handguns shoot very fast too coupled with a bunch of 10 round mags a hand gun can do just as much damage.

    February 7, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. Anonymous

    It hasn't changed that much. I've voted democrat my entire adult life, but I'll be voting republican from now on.

    February 7, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  17. James Pettinato

    The common denominator in all gun deaths isn't the type of gun, it's the bullets. A felon or mentally unstable can get a gun and go to wall mart unchecked.
    A Federal background photo ID to buy bullets would filter out the felon, the restraining order and mentally unstable. A ccw would also work, alot of people have them.

    February 7, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |